Adidas ‘Pitch, Please’: A positive step for trans inclusion in football

Adidas' "Pitch, Please" campaign logo.

International sports brand Adidas recently announced a new campaign to provide pitch access for women and non-binary players based in London. 

‘Pitch, Please’ launched earlier this month with the aim of improving access to training facilities for women and non-binary people. This is a direct response to the difficulties faced by these groups when trying to book pitches in the capital.

Addressing the access problem

A lack of access to training facilities and insufficient infrastructure is a key problem in the women’s football community. According to Women In Sport, “59 per cent of teenage girls who used to be sporty” enjoy competitive sports but are being failed by a number of factors.

One of the key reasons these girls stop engaging is that, as they get older, there are “inadequate opportunities” to participate. A significant element of this absence of opportunity is that teams often find it difficult to find pitches to play on. 

Many women’s teams struggle to find available spaces at appropriate times because of block bookings made by men’s teams. Another key factor is that many pitches in London do not have facilities that cater to the needs of women and non-binary players.

For example, research conducted by Adidas suggests that many clubs don’t provide bins for the disposal of sanitary products. Some clubs also fail to provide private changing areas, the lack of which disproportionately affects trans and non-binary people. 

In order to begin tackling these inequalities, ‘Pitch, Please’ offers women and non-binary players the opportunity to “book and use a pitch free of charge.”

Teams can request to reserve spaces at Haggerston School and Fulham FC for training or a match. A number of 5-a-side, 7-a-side and 9-a-side pitches are all available to book, depending on the needs of the group.

This scheme will run on Saturdays and Sundays at specified times for the rest of July.

The importance of inclusion

It is essential that football becomes more inclusive of trans and non-binary people.

Statistics show that 60 per cent of trans people and 64 per cent of non-binary people in the UK are not active enough to maintain good health. When it comes to football, barriers to participation arise as a consequence of the gendered nature of the sport.

Many players are excluded from participating because of the Football Association’s regulations regarding transgender people in football. These rules dictate that trans men and women must meet specific hormone requirements to participate in the correct gender category.

With waiting times for NHS Gender Identity Clinics being 3+ years long, the FA’s guidelines are simply not practical for trans people in the early stages of their transition, or indeed, those who do not wish to medically transition.

The regulations also fail to mention non-binary identities and they, therefore, erase non-binary players altogether. 

In excluding trans and non-binary people, football deprives itself of access to talented players simply because they are not cisgender. This is a lose-lose situation for the trans and football communities alike.

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How ‘Pitch, Please’ is helping improve trans inclusion

‘Pitch, Please’s slogan is “helping women, girls and non-binary people get access to football pitches during UEFA Euro 2022.”

The campaign does use the term “female” in some of its promotional material. This term is often used to exclude trans women due to its biological connotations. However, after enquiring through the campaign’s booking service, I was assured that trans women are welcome to participate.

Adidas’ efforts to include trans people in ‘Pitch, Please’ is an important step towards improving inclusion in football. This campaign allows trans women and non-binary individuals to gain access to football pitches without policing their bodies in any way. This is a big step when the majority of football clubs have little choice but to adhere to outdated and exclusionary policies regarding trans people’s participation.

Additionally, the campaign’s inclusive approach is important as many trans people do not participate in sports because they fear that they will not be accepted by others. This is particularly relevant to non-binary people who may not know whether they will be allowed to participate in events. The decision by Adidas to specify that non-binary people are welcome to participate in ‘Pitch, Please’, alleviates these concerns.

It also helps to facilitate an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion of trans and non-binary players in football.

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The bottom line

The women’s football community prides itself on its inclusivity when it comes to LGBTQ+ identities. This is certainly fair when it comes to the acceptance and celebration of diverse sexualities. But, more needs to be done to support and encourage the involvement of trans and non-binary players. 

Adidas’ ‘Pitch, Please’ campaign is a positive initiative by a major corporation to improve inclusion for these communities. However, it is still relatively rare to see such campaigns in women’s football. It is important, then, that clubs and corporations alike begin to make regular efforts to improve participation and inclusivity for trans and non-binary players. Only then will we be able to regard women’s football in this country as a bastion of LGBTQ+ inclusion.

How to get involved in ‘Pitch, Please’

The ‘Pitch, Please’ campaign will run until July 31st this year. The end of the scheme will coincide with the conclusion of the Women’s Euro 2022 tournament. Requests for access can be made via a dedicated booking service on WhatsApp.

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